Cyclists From The Wasatch Back Ride For Cancer Research Funding

A handful of cyclists from Summit and Wasatch County are participating in the Pan Mass Challenge which is a 2-day, 192-mile bike-a-thon to raise money for cancer research. It starts in Sturbridge Massachusetts and ends in Provincetown at the end of Cape Cod.

Rob DiMartini plans to ride for his fourteenth year in the challenge. He lives in Park City, owns a local bike shop and is the CEO of US Cycling. He says 100 percent of the money raised goes to cancer research with the Dana Farber Cancer Center. The goal this year is to raise $60 million.  DiMartini says this single event funds 60 percent of the Cancer Center’s operating budget. Patrick Byrne, CEO of has issued a challenge grant and will contribute $1 million if the goal is met.

“You know, I came to it, honestly, I would say as a rider first not as a cancer advocate.  But the more I’ve been around it over these 13-14 years, I’m convinced we’re going to ride our way towards the curing of a lot of cancers because of this research.”

The 192 mile, 2-day bike-a-thon is not a race and everyone participating must raise their own funds which can be designated to specific research. DiMartini’s personal goal is to raise $20,000.00 this year. He says it’s a remarkable undertaking that involves thousands of volunteers that support the more than 6000 riders. He says Massachusetts drivers are notoriously aggressive and impatient, but people line the streets as the riders come through the many towns along the route. He says some ride to memorialize a loved one and some are cancer survivors that are part of a team called Living Proof.

“What sticks in my mind is my first year I had rode it, I hadn’t ridden anything that long prior and I didn’t prepare properly. And, at the end of the first day, about 85 miles in, it was very hot  and I was feeling beat and we pulled into a rest stop where there were about 70 kids holding signs that said if you guys didn’t ride, I wouldn’t be here.”

Heber resident Bill Bechek is on a team of 12 who are riding in memory of two people.

“Sister-in-law’s first husband died of cancer and he actually got involved. And, also her best friend died of cancer and both her best friend’s husband and her, are our team captains.”

Bechek says his team is called Freemont Clayton, the two last names of those being memorialized. And they are traveling from all around the US to participate in the fund raiser.

Holly Ryker lives in the Salt Lake Valley and does a lot of training in Kamas. She ski-raced in college and one of her teammates was diagnosed with cancer right after graduating.

And he and I have done a lot of fund-raising rides for cancer. And, he’s been involved in the Pan-Mass Challenge, I think this is his 15th year now. And, this will be my third. And, the thing I like about the ride is all the money raised goes to research and it’s the largest sport’s-based fund-raising organization event in the country.”

Ryker will ride with ribbons on her back to celebrate those she knows who have been affected by cancer along with recognition of her donors.

“You have to raise a minimum of $5000.00 and I’ve raised over that including this year and the past three years. So, my total funds over the past three years are over $20,000.00 and I designate my funds to bone marrow transplant research cause I used to work here at Huntsman here in Salt Lake with Bone Marrow transplant patients.”

Every dollar raised goes directly to Dan-Farber. Last year they raised $56 million which brought the 39-year donation total to $654 million. There are five riders representing the Wasatch Back in this year’s Pan-Mass Bike-A-Thon August 3rd and 4th.

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Heber Valley Artisan Cheese held their 2nd annual Ice Sculptures Exhibition this weekend. Several local businesses sponsored the sculptures being displayed. There were also two different ice carving demonstrations. The event was free to the public.

The annual event began last year when Carolee Kohler saw ice sculpting on a Hallmark movie and thought it would be a fun idea for their farm. They are also considering a woodcarving event.

According to Lindsey Strother, social media and events coordinator, each sculpture takes between 1-3 hours to carve. “We contacted Amazing Ice Creations back in November, and we reached out to local companies to sponsor the ice sculptures,” she said. “Yesterday morning around 9 am, they came in a massive truck and dropped them all off for us, and we set them up.”

Along with the ice sculptures, sponsors receive a sign and canopy for the display and social media marketing. The sponsors decide what they want to have sculpted. After the event, they can take the ice sculptures and display them at their businesses. The creations normally last a couple of weeks. Some will be left in the field and can be viewed throughout the week.

The ice this year included Olaf, company logos, animals, and other items. Darron Kingston, the sculptor, has carved ice for over 10 years with his dad. According to Kingston, “I like sculptures that give me a challenge. Here, for example, my favorite was the lumberjack.” One of his favorite past creations was a 9-foot bear.

Grant Kohler, owner of Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, explained, “We decided to do something that was free and something that people could just get out and come and enjoy. Especially this year with Covid, it seems like Januarys are slow months. People are looking for things to be able to get outside and do.” He continued, “Businesses pay in and buy the sculptures, we have them sculpted, and then we just let people come and enjoy them.” Kohler estimated around 3,000 to 4,000 people will stop by the event.

The dairy farm also offers cheese-making classes and tours of their new robotic barn. “The tours are everyday except Sunday,” according to Kohler. “People hayride over, intermingle with the cows, see the barn and amenities, and watch the cows be milked. The cows will literally go get milked on their own.” Tickets for the tours and other events are available on the Heber Valley Artisan Cheese website: